Thursday evening [February 11, 2016] young hopefuls looking for love poured into T.I.‘s Scales 925 restaurant in Atlanta to take part in the city’s first “Celebrity Speed Dating” event, and to the casual onlooker picking Erica Dixon from the crowd might have been a task.

Dixon worked her way around the venue introducing herself to everyone she met with a smile and relaxed grace as if she weren’t the reason many of the patrons were there. Recently announcing her departure from VH1’s Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta, Erica hasn’t skipped a beat and is making sure her brand lives on for all the right reasons.

Dixon has poured herself into the creation of her children’s book series and her Klass6 brand, a lifestyle line curated for the everyday woman, and she’s clearly loving every moment of it.

We had the chance to sit down with Dixon and discuss her life without reality television and both her joys and difficulties as an entrepreneur, author, and mother. Read the full interview below.

In Love & Hip Hop you were very open about your childhood and your relationship with your mother. Can you elaborate on how that relationship molded you into the businesswoman, author, everything you’ve become?

I’ve been through a lot. It’s showed me what I want to expose my child to and what I don’t want to expose her to. You know, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I don’t want people to get it twisted, though. I didn’t have like this horrible childhood growing up. There were just certain points in my life when things weren’t at their best. But, right now, my mom and I are doing really good. We have a really great relationship.

The things I did go through did show me what type of mother I didn’t want to be to my daughter. So, that’s what makes me the mother and businesswoman I am today. I’ve always wanted more.

Of course, we say we want the best for our kids. I want the best for her. She won’t struggle, she won’t have to go through anything and that’s because I have her set up appropriately.

How open do you plan on getting in the future with your Southern Bell series? How do you plan on relating that back to mothers and their daughters as well?

I’m going to get very open. Introducing Southern Bell is just the beginning of a series of seven books and that will lead into my tell-all book. So, I plan on getting very open. Everything from what you did see on television to what you didn’t see on television.

What do you feel is really going to change now you’re leaving the reality television lifestyle behind and you’re now stepping into your business lane?

Doors. You know? I’m walking in a different assignment in my life right now. This is something I’m passionate about and it’s dear to me because it’s my life and what I’ve been through.

You  know, writing a children’s book is so I can touch another child that may be going through something where they feel like they don’t have anybody.

Now, with your lifestyle line Klass6, what aspect of your life is it that you’re pouring into that brand?

Klass6 came about for the everyday woman. I have a 10 year old, and I feel like in today’s society, so many girls think naked is the new sexy. My message is that you can still be classy and sexy at the same time. You don’t have to be naked. That message is for younger girls and teenagers at the same time.

Southern Bell is me, my voice. What I went through. Growing up, I’ve always been into fashion. I love dressing up, always wanting to be different, and that’s where Klass6 came in. I said I have to do something for the women.

Now, with reality shows there’s always this stigma that comes along.  You’re obviously shaking that off your back. So, what else do you see yourself doing in getting rid of that label and everything that came along with Love & Hip-Hop?

For one, everything I’ve said that I’m going to do, I’ve done. The dress line, the children’s book, the hair line; everything I said I was going to do, I’ve done it.

I feel like being on a reality show, they put reality stars in a box. They  say things or say they’re going to do certain things and it’s just for show. But, me, what I say I’m going to d0, I’m passionate about it.

So, with introducing Southern Bell, with Klass6, I’m putting together a non-profit organization and mentoring program with my mother, and it’s our first venture together. So, I’m very excited to see where it all goes. I know it’s going to turn really well. It’s geared toward children who are going through certain situations and circumstances where we can be here and help them.

In the past you’ve had to deal with your relationships—family and romantic—always being in the public eye. How do you go about protecting those relationships?

It’s tough. If one of my homeboys say, ‘Hey, let’s go eat’, I’m just like, ‘Should I go?’ It’s like, ‘Okay, well she’s dating him now.’ Then if another homeboy hits me up, and I’m eating with two different guy friends in one week, then I’m labeled as a ‘ho.’

It’s difficult because you’re in this spotlight and people always assume if they see you with someone that it has to be some sort of romantic relationship.

Well, now I don’t want to be all “What do you plan to do to stop it” but–

[laughs] I can’t do anything to stop it. Now, if I put myself in a certain situation or something happens, I’m going to just face the problem. I’m not going to run away from it.

If it happens, I have to get to the point where I’m willing to say ‘Hey, we’re going to go out and we’re going to have some fun. If something comes out, it comes out.’

But, I’m not there yet. So, I try to stay in my little shell and I’m still skeptical about who I go out with and when we go out.

What’s the best advice that you think you can give to the everyday mother on being the best mother you could be?

Be the best mother than you can be. Be the best mother that you know how to be. You can’t worry about criticism. Everybody has different parenting styles. I don’t always agree with things that my cousins or aunties do with their kids. But, they’re not my kids. They’re raising their children according to what standards and rules that they want them to have.

You know, I’m different. I grew up in a really, really strict household. I wasn’t exposed to much. But, I did the opposite with my daughter. I’ve exposed her to a lot more because I don’t want her to be ‘green.’ I felt like was green up until I was about 15 years old. Everything hit me at one time. So, I am very open and honest with her about everything.

What’s the statement that you want to leave as an introduction to not the ‘new you,’ but the ‘real you’—the real way that you want everyone to perceive you as being.

I say my Three P’s: Positivity, Productivity, and Prosperity. That’s what I go by. If anything that I have going is not helping me prosper, if it’s not positive, if it’s not productive, I don’t want anything to do with it. I’m trying to grow, and if you’re around me, I want you to grow too.

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